Dodds believes even bigger, better days ahead for Big 12
Asked his thoughts on the Big 12 Conference celebrating its 10th anniversary season of competition beginning this fall, University of Texas Men's Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds paused for a moment.
"Seems more like about five years, doesn't it?" he said. "In what really has been a very short time, the Big 12 Conference has established itself as one of the best conferences in the country.
"Anyone capable of winning in the Big 12 is capable of winning an NCAA Championship."
During the first nine years of the conference's existence, 24 different teams from the Big 12 have won NCAA Championships. This past year was the conference's most successful ever: Texas won the women's outdoor track and field and men's baseball titles; Baylor captured the women's basketball title; Colorado took men's and women's cross country; while Oklahoma State grabbed the NCAA wrestling crown.
"When it (the Big 12) was put together," Dodds began, "there were some who were not very happy. There was talk that the South would be short on basketball. There was concern about the loss of old natural rivalries."
However, Dodds noted that Texas and Nebraska in football and Texas and Kansas in basketball have become great rivalries for Longhorns' fans.
"And women's basketball has produced another strong Texas-OU rivalry," he said.
When the pieces fell into place and the Big 12 came into existence on Feb. 25, 1994, it of course officially signaled the end of the Southwest Conference.
"Any change hurts," Dodds admitted of Texas' place in the storied SWC. "There is the personal loss of no longer being with certain colleagues. I know many people hated to see the Southwest Conference come to an end.
"But with the changing landscape in the world of TV and athletics, the Big 12 Conference was something that had to happen."
What does Dodds expect in the next decade?
"Continued success," he said, without pausing. "The Big 12 Conference is going to continue to grow because we're in communities where there are no major league sports. We're going to get stronger and stronger."